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What you need to know about Microsoft updates

Microsoft updates provide free Internet-based security updates and fixes to known Windows system problems as well as introduce new Microsoft features and components to Windows PCs. If you have a Windows PC, it is highly recommended you regularly install the latest updates from Microsoft to keep your computer secure and stable.

Microsoft updates versus Windows updates

There is usually a general confusion between Microsoft updates and Windows updates. Windows updates is the default service that provides updates for windows operating systems and installed components, such as Internet Explorer.

Microsoft updates, on the other hand, is an optional, expanded service of Windows updates. The service provides similar updates as Windows updates, but with additional updates included for Microsoft software running under Windows, such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Expression Studio and some server products.

The avenue for downloading updates from Microsoft is the “Windows Update” panel, accessed from “Control Panel” in Window’s menu list. Enable or disable the optional Microsoft updates service by checking or unchecking the option labelled “Microsoft Update” from the "Windows update" panel in Windows 7.

In older versions of Windows systems, enable or disable Microsoft updates service by visiting the Microsoft Update Web site, Update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate, from where you can install updates. You will be prompted to install Microsoft Updates software if the software is not already installed on your PC.

Windows update options

Windows systems provide different options on how to install updates to streamline the update process. You can install available updates manually or install them automatically. If you enable the automatic install option, Windows will download and install the latest updates automatically as soon as they become available.

A benefit to the automatic option is that you are protected against the latest security threats as early as possible. The manual option ensures you get the latest optional update components, which are not automatically updated.

Other options are provided if you enable the automatic option. Among the additional options are:

  • option to download updates automatically but let you choose whether to install them,
  • option to check for updates automatically but let you decide whether to download and install them, and
  • option to allow all users to install updates automatically on your computer.

These options are designed to enhance user experience and keep your PC in top working condition.

Bottom line

Microsoft provides important updates necessary for optimum PC performance, including functionality updates and security updates. Functionality updates enhance your PC’s functionality and stability while security updates protect your PC against malware and other security vulnerabilities. The updates are usually provided on the second Tuesday of every month, commonly referred as "Patch Tuesday," although they can be availed whenever there is an urgent need for them. To ensure your system is never vulnerable to security threats, routinely check for updates and install them at least once a week.

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